Friday, May 10, 2013

7 Quick Takes - Homeschool advice needed from you pros out there!

Linking up with the beautiful Jen. As always.

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Did you ever think you had something all discerned and figured out, then you're faced with actually doing it...and all of a sudden your discernment takes a whole new level? That's us and homeschooling this week.

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I just have to start off by saying that I've always loved working with little kids and especially teaching them. Even though my degree wasn't in education, I've still had plenty of opportunity to teach kids in a catechetical classroom setting. But by far, my favorite kid EVER to teach is my little Stinky. And she LOVES having me teach her. It is a mutually wonderful relationship for us. I'm living my dream of teaching and she's soaking it all up like a sponge and loving every minute of it!

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But all that being said, we are at the very cusp of preschool homeschooling. And so the Abbot and I have been having some real discernment talks this week about homeschooling. And I feel like I've been actually taking it to prayer, in a way I haven't before. I think one thing that neither of us doubts is my ability to teach our daughters, and to teach them well. I think that both of us think that I am fully capable of giving our daughters a strong academic background. And I think that we are also now in a place where we both realize that this isn't something stressful for me, but something life-giving that I truly enjoy. I struggle so much with having a baby...but I am LOVING having a preschooler!

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So, part of what our conversation is coming down to is the classic socialization question. (And here's where any of you homeschoolers participating in this link-up can definitely chip in and share your wisdom!!) Part of this is trusting in God for the long term (because we don't know where we'll live 3 years from now after the Abbot graduates, so we can't discern that far...this is more for the right now discernment but we're discerning with the long term in mind). The Abbot and I both want little Stinky to have the experience of having friendships and being part of a community. As far as the community goes, we all love our parish and I know she feels very much a part of it! And we're also discerning signing her up for a Catechesis of the Good Shepherd atrium when she's old enough because I LOVE that curriculum so much, and we can afford to send her to one! And as far as friends go...she has way more friends (that she prays for by name each night and talks about and looks forward to seeing and playing with) than either of us did at 2.5. And, regardless of where we end up living we will definitely be active members of our parish community and I would definitely dig in and find a homeschooling co-op to belong to (and maybe an atrium for Stinky and Baby Sister to go to). Also, hopefully we'll form a community with other families at whatever university the Abbot lands at. Sooo...logically we shouldn't worry about this. But I'm sure every homeschooling family does at some point. Thoughts?

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Ultimately what it comes down to we've realized is...is this where God is wanting us to be? We know that if we homeschool we will have some family and friends who will be extremely supportive and others who are concerned. It's not something either of us ever considered prior to parenthood. BUT it is something we will wholeheartedly undertake if it is what God wants for our family. So your prayers for our discernment are appreciated!

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Right now, this experience reminds me of so many other big moments of discernment in my life (and in our life as a couple). Discerning what college to go to, and what to study. Discerning engagement. Discerning children. In each of these experiences, I know that once I feel at peace with knowing (as much as is possible in this lifetime) that I'm saying yes to what God is calling me to, than I can do it, no matter how hard it is. That's what the call to children has been like for us - despite my hyperemesis, we both feel such deep peace knowing we are called to have these little ones that we're able to keep going! I am hoping to come to that kind of peace with this discernment.

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On a funny note...I kind of feel like I'm in college again, discerning my life's vocation. The Abbot and I both experienced a slight draw to the priesthood (him) and religious life (me). We both thought that these vocations were beautiful, lovely things...but deep down both were afraid that because we really wanted to be married and have a family that meant that we had to become a religious/priest...because surely your vocation can't possibly be the thing you WANT to do, right? I know better now, but I'm definitely having those same feelings right now. I feel so guilty because I want to homeschool Stinky (and the feeling seems to be mutual...she is always asking for "school time")...and part of me is assuming, "Okay, if I want it so much it much mean that God is calling us to send her to preschool, etc." I know that sounds silly...but such is the brain when it is lost in that crazy web of discernment!

Thanks for letting me share all that, friends ;-)

12 comments:

  1. Hmmm....well as a mother who has been homeschooling for 6 years now, my advice is to not worry so much.

    You don't have to decide right now about homeschooling until she's 18...you only have to discern one year at a time.

    As far as socialization goes, as long as you plug into your church or homeschool communities and make an effort o have playdates, she 'll be fine. Really. We've moved around a ton and have always homeschooled and it has always worked out.

    Catechism of the Good Shepherd is a great program...my son did that and really enjoyed it.

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    1. Thank you so much! It feels great hearing that from someone with 6 years of homeschooling under her belt...and especially from someone who has had to move a ton, because that's definitely on my mind. But your comment definitely made me feel better!

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    2. Sorry to keep replying, but my experience has been that homeschooling makes it easier for kids to make friends when you move around a lot...I think because unlike school, all activities involve some degree (and usually lots) of parental involvement, so the mom meets the other mothers at the same time the child meets other children. It is SO much easier to foster your children's friendships when you are at least friendly with the other child's parents. At least that has been my experience. Plus, homeschool groups tend to be used to families moving in and out of group...not just because people move into and out of the area, but because people most into and out of homeschooling..so in my experience many homeschoolers are very welcoming to new families.

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    3. That is even more reassuring to hear! Thanks for sharing your wisdom :-)

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  2. Our homeschooling decision was pretty much made for us when John Paul turned out to be such an academically-minded kid... No way can I send him to "normal" school and have to explain to every. single. teacher that "Well, he's been reading since he was 2 and will basically just teach himself anything from a book, but he will only focus on what HE wants to learn so you have to make him think it was his idea..."

    I'm looking forward to hearing what you all do - I LOVE the Montessori philosophy (I went to a Montessori school from when I was 2 through 8th grade; my grandparents were actually the founders) and would love to incorporate it with the kids but I just feel like I have NO time to do any of this... So we've pretty much just postponed anything formal until things slow down a little bit over here!!!

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    1. Thanks, Rosie! And it makes me feel so good to know you guys are planning on homeschooling, too! Yeah, my girl hasn't learned to read yet but there's plenty she has already learned that most kids going into preschool might not know and I would be worried about her being "the smart kid" and spending years bored in school! I hope I can inspire you some with what we're implementing...but I like your attitude alot!!! From what I've heard, it's best not to stress about doing anything too formal when they're so little, so we still do very little by way of formal around her and part of why I love Montessori is because it really is more free-form/follow the child and less, "We must cram all this info into this child's head this year so he/she can pass a standardized test." I'd love to hear more about your Montessori experience!

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    3. Exactly! My husband and I were always "the smart kid" and he even skipped a grade because he was so obnoxious when he finished all his work first... I just don't think traditional schooling is what will best serve kids like that! Who knows, we may change our minds later, but I think John Paul needs socialization more than anything else, and I'm not paying $5000/year for a glorified play group!

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    4. OH my goodness..my sentiments exactly!! :-)

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  3. Sorry about the deleted comment up there, for some reason my computer published before I was done typing.

    Yes, I agree, that it definitely best not to do anything too formal when kids are too young..and it really doesn't benefit kids too much to try to teach them too early . I started trying to do "formal reading instruction" with my oldest when she was 4 1/2 and it was really frustrating and she didn't really "get it" until right around her 6th birthday. With my 2nd, I started later...more like age 5 1/2, and she learned to read at basically the same time age as my oldest did (around her 6th birthday). And both girls were very fluent readers/reading chapter books by age 7. Anyway, my point is that from my experience starting earlier doesn't make them learn faster, children seem to hit a certain point/age where they suddenly "get" a certain concept (reading, addition, etc, etc.) and once they hit that point it all becomes "easy" and prior to that point, it's just a struggle.

    Montessori is great for that, because it is a lot of free form/play, which is something we always did, although I didn't label it "Montessori"

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  4. May I second the other lovely mothers on here and say not to worry so much. It sounds like you are doing a lovely job with your little girl and between prayer and God's grace, you'll all do very well. I'm relatively new to homeschooling (son in 1st grade, daughter in pre-K), but I must say that I sort of regret having them start "official school" so early. They have such a limited time to be truly kids and play outside and explore. Doing school time all too soon become a necessity rather than a pure desire (though they do often coexist!) and you'll miss the freewheeling days without a schedule to stick to.
    May I also recommend the book Beauty and the Word by Stratford Caldecott? It is sooo good in terms of developing a vision for your homeschool. Also, I'm a Charlotte Mason homeschooler so I am partial to anything by her (found free on www.amblesideonline.com) and also the book For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School.
    Good luck in your discernment! I've heard wonderful things about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd - I'm am sure your daughter will love it!

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    1. Oh my goodness...thank you so much for such solid advice! I think you hit my problem right on the nose...needing to relax and not worrying about it be a structured thing. She definitely wants "school time" with mommy, and she asks for it....but she still needs to be free to not do it or to let it morph into play time. I definitely need the reminder/reassurance that it's okay to let that happen :-)

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